Photo of the Week: A New Theme

Hello, Globetrotters.  Beginning this week I’d like to start sharing with you a brief mid-week post with the theme “Photo of the Week.”   I’m not sure where this theme will take me, but I’m excited to share more about me through photos.  I’ll still maintain full-length posts every Sunday (sometimes Monday or Tuesday) while starting this new venture.

To start us off I’m sharing a selfie.  Selfies are great.  Selfies say “Hey, I liked how I look, so I took a photo and I’m sharing it with you.”  Well, this is me.  Photo credit: me.  Model: me.

Have a fantastic week!

I’m A Scientist: But What Do I Really Do?

As you may or may not know, my day job is to be a scientist. I work at a small pharmaceutical company in their skin biology or “IVPT” (In Vitro Permeation Testing) department. Let me warn you right now, if you’re squeamish about dead stuff/the human body you should probably click away. I’ve got nice, fun articles about traveling in New York or making yummy veggie squares that are not gross at all.

StopifYoureSqueamish

Okay, non-squeamish people, thank you for sticking with me! My job is to test various topical products (skin ointments, creams, gels, etc) on various membranes, most commonly on human cadaver skin. I’ve also worked with fresh/flash frozen human skin (skin that was removed during surgery), pig skin, and nasal tissue cultures.

My least favorite was the pig skin; after awhile I couldn’t get those little dead piggies out of my head. I don’t know how folks work with animals that they are conducting studies on and then have to euthanize. It’s definitely not for me! However, it is a necessary evil: the FDA requires animal testing for all pharmaceuticals (including things like sunscreen) before they can reach human clinical trials. Luckily, there is no live animal testing at my company, and the pig skin (which was harvested off-site) is my only experience working on any kind of animal testing.

franz-diffusion-cell

Most of my work is with human cadaver skin, which is donated by 100% consenting human adults! I am tasked with mounting pieces of skin onto diffusion cells, applying a topical formulation on top, and removing samples throughout the testing period. I also have to separate the skin layers and process the samples for analysis. They’re then passed on to another scientist who analyzes the samples on a Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry or High Performance Liquid Chromatography/fluorescence detector. Analysis is super complex and not my job so I’m not even going to try to explain it!

I’ve also done a variety of non-lab work for the support of the skin biology department. Writing protocols, placing skin orders (way creepier sounding than it is. I like to say “My job is to order dead people’s skin off the internet.”), organizing tissues and other supplies, and other boring office stuff are the less-cool parts of my job.

catoncomputer

I mostly wanted to share with you all a little bit more about me. I hope you learned something new! The US’s drug approval process is long (10-15 years) and I participate in one tiny sliver of it. There are definitely movements to shorten the process, but having seen a little of the behind-the-scenes, let me tell you, you do not want it shortened at the expense of your safety. So much goes into testing the safety, stability, and bioavailability* that it’s difficult and unsafe to rush.

I would love to see a reduction in animal testing, which brings me to my secondary goal with this post: to encourage you to become an organ donor/donate your body to science. So many fields benefit from having real human organs/bodies to conduct tests on; from pharmaceuticals to medical schools, to forensic science to transplant centers: the list goes on and on. An increase in the availability of human organs in pharmaceuticals would not only reduce the animal testing needed, but increase the accuracy and reliability of the results. I’ve linked a few different guides to the steps you need to take to donate your body to science.

https://www.wikihow.com/Donate-Your-Body-to-Science
http://www.sciencecare.com/how-does-the-body-donation-process-work/
https://www.refinery29.com/donating-your-body-to-science?bucketed=false&bucketing_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

Are you an organ donor? Do you plan to donate your body to science? Why or why not? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

*basically how well the drug will actually work with your body.  See linked article for a more detailed explanation.

Simple Tips for Eating Healthier in 2018

This is not a diet. It’s not an exercise routine or a total lifestyle change. These are some simple tips and substitutions to help you make healthier choices in 2018.

  1. Drink water
    Staying hydrated will make you feel better and keep your body running smoothly.  If you need a little push try out this bottle which keeps you on track to drink water throughout the day.
  2. Drink black coffee or add a splash of milk instead of going to starbucks
    If you’re a coffee drinker who loves lattes and fraps but wants to be healthier in the new year, consider brewing your own black coffee at home. Coffee has almost no calories, so if you drink it black or add just a splash of milk or hint of sugar, you’ll be reducing your caloric intake (not to mention fat and sugar) by a lot. A small coffee house drink can have 330+ calories!
  3. Be conscious of your protein and vegetable consumption.
    I make sure to have at least one-two servings of each every day. Even if it doesn’t seem to go together. For example: a bowl of black beans as a side for protein with cheese pizza.
  4. Try squash/zucchini spaghetti
    Cut down on carbs by replacing pasta with spiralized veggies.
  5. Make your own sauces or use spice blends instead
    Pinterest has a ton of ideas for healthier pasta sauces/dishes. My favorite is pasta tossed with olive oil, breadcrumbs, lemon juice, pepper, salt, and parsley.
  6. Switch to sugar-free energy drinks
    They’re out there! Energy drinks have a ton of sugar. If you drink energy drinks and want to reduce your sugar intake, try out the sugar-free versions.
  7. Limit to one soda a week.
    Moderation is key. Let yourself have treats, but know that it’s not an everyday thing. You’ll enjoy it more, and you’re reducing your caloric and sugar intake. Replace the sodas you were drinking with water and you’re killing two birds with one stone.
  8. Diet soda
    See “sugar-free energy drinks” above. Reduce your sugar intake by going diet.

Whatever your bad habit is, find a way to reduce it until it’s gone. For example, my bad habit is eating sweets every night. My husband and I eat supper early, around 5-6pm, so I’m usually hungry again in the evening before bed. For a while, I’ve had a glass of milk and some cookies, candy, or brownies before bed. I’m trying to eat a cup of yogurt (I like the Chobani “flip” greek yogurt) and a glass of water 1-2 times a week instead of sugary snacks. As I get used to that, I’ll try to do it 2-3 times a week, then 3-4, until my regular late-night snack is yogurt instead of cookies.

You know what you shouldn’t eat. With a slow reduction, you can eliminate the things you want to from your diet, and add in the good stuff. Good luck!

Did you enjoy this post? What do you do to stay healthy? Leave a comment below. Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Disclaimer: if you follow the Amazon link in the body of this post and make purchases through them, I will receive a small compensation from Amazon. This compensation comes from Amazon, not from you, and the price you see through my links is the same as the price you would see otherwise.

Water bottle with time marker: http://amzn.to/2sENn4Z

Photo credit, plus a great article from the CDC about food safety: https://www.cdc.gov/features/foodsafetyquiz/index.html